The fourth Seafood Summit hopes to expand small scale fisheries networks

During the recent pandemic, as international supply chains fractured, small scale seafood businesses proved themselves to be the best sources of fresh local seafood.

Organized by the Local Catch Network (LCN), the upcoming Seafood Summit in Girdwood, Alaska, on Oct. 2-3 aims to help these small companies keep their edge.

“We are a values-driven, mission-driven organization of people who work in fisheries and aquaculture,” says LCN member and organizer, Andrea Tomlinson. “The conference will feature two days of speakers and a field trip. It’s primarily aimed at small and medium sized fishing businesses with an interest in selling direct to the public.”

Small scale retailers often sell products from boats they own, or from a network of harvesters. They sell out of shops, farmers markets and often offer home delivery. In the past two years many doubled and tripled their sales.

They thrived, as people learned the value of short supply chains and local resilience.

“The conference will focus on three areas,” says Tomlinson. “Technical assistance, networking, and research. The technical assistance will target people who need support with a particular problem. The research is focused on topics that increase our stock of common knowledge. Networking is of course what we do best, we aggregate and share knowledge gained through our experiences.”

According to the Seafood Summit announcement, “a primary goal of the summit is to foster relationships between the seafood industry and the support sectors that are critical to the transition toward socio-ecologically responsible, values-based seafood systems.”

In addition, LCN hopes to bring non-traditional participants into the network.

“We are all about helping each other,” says Tomlinson, contrasting the Seafood Summit to big seafood businesses that protect their sources, markets, and research. “That’s definitely not we are about,” she says.

The October 2022 Seafood Summit will be the fourth one organized by LCN.

“I was at the first one in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 2012,” says Tomlinson. “Then the second was in Norfolk, Virginia in 2016, and the last one was in Portland, Oregon in 2019.”

While Tomlinson works with the organization on several levels, LCN’s Jordan Richardson is the primary organizer of the event.

“We've got an awesome lineup of speakers and attendees including seafood harvesters and business owners, researchers, advocates, and food service professionals,” says Richardson.

Richardson says the presenters and topics will include:

- Mon Appetit: Building engagement with customers.

- Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association/Alaskans Own: Creating a more resilient food system through regional partnerships.

- University of Maine: Putting values into practice for local and regional seafood systems.

- Don't Cage Our Oceans: Fish farming futures.

There will be more than a dozen other sessions as well.

The Summit costs $300 for participants under age 30 and early registrants, $350 for general admission.

“We do have scholarships,” says LCN’s Tomlinson.

More information can be found at:

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Paul Molyneaux is the Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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